Tag Archives: Biercée

Jigger’s launches Belle Fleur Apple Eau De Vie!

And you know what they say, an apple a day... Olivier Jacobs from Jigger's (Ghent) wanted to make a spirit that is honest and responsibly made. A product which he followed from apple to bottle. Distilled by Biercée this results in an eau de vie that is an absolute jewel and there's only 2000 bottles...

Olivier really loves apples and right he is, I mean apples are a big deal. Catholics have built their entire faith around it, Newton discovered gravity, the Greeks went to war for more than ten years because of one apple, we have named cities after it and stuff that takes pictures of you! Apples are good!

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The beautiful bottle. Take a note of the label, designed and drawn by Olivier himself.

After all it is not so surprising that at one moment some people are going to stand up and say: “everybody’s making gin, well to hell with that, I’m going to make an apple eau de vie!”. So one year ago some 40 people started to pluck apples from an orchard in Namur and they did an incredible job, because after some calculation Olivier deduced that they must have used around 40.000 apples to make 1000 litres of apple eau de vie! When he said that, I tried to picture that mount of apples and 40 very tiered people.

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Bart Capoen from Jigger’s, working on one of the beauties.

The apples are from different varieties, but mostly Belle Fleurs, whence the name. They thought of calling it iApple or Eye Apple, but quickly abandoned the – rather cheesy – idea. So Belle Fleur it is and it’s lovely! We’ve always loved apple schnapps, it reminds of winter, snow and après ski get togethers. And God know’s I have left a rib on every piste in Austria that I visited. Speaking of ribs, Eve in the Garden Of Eden shouldn’t have bit the apple, she should have distilled it and probably ended up with Belle Fleur.

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Delicious Belle Fleur cocktails

It is neat as well as in cocktails and we tasted two examples of it: a wonderful sour with liquorice syrup and a brilliant thirst quenching long drink with ginger and cider.

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The crew from Jigger’s and Biercée. It’s a crazy, happy bunch and they certainly know how to make a good drink!

So, if you like apples – and who doesn’t- you should definitely try to lay your hands on one of those bottles. Cheers!

 

 

 

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First Belgian Bitter launched by Biercée Distillery

Belgians like their bitter they say, I say Belgians like everything. True, we love cacao, coffee, endives, sprouts, hops and others but we're also quite fond of our stew and fries, our waffles, genever, anything really. But what if some crazy Belgians said to each other: "what would happen if we put all the bitter stuff we liked into one bottle"? At Biercée distillery they don't back down from a challenge and said: " we can do that"! The result is a delicious "wolf in sheep's clothing": Biercée Bitter, the first Belgian Amaro.

What’s an Amaro

“Amaro” means bitter in Italian and refers to a certain type of herbal liqueur, namely – you guessed it – a bitter one. Traditionally people drank it after a heavy meal to help digestion. And in Italy where your dinner lasts from 17:00 till 02:00 this can be very helpful sometimes.

Is it vermouth

Well yes and no. Amaro can be made with neutral spirit, brandy or wine. When it is wine based it’s often called amaro vermouth, as is also the case with any (very) bitter tasting vermouth. Also vermouth was often taken before dinner (or between) and amaro after dinner… or between dinners depends on how you look at it of course. This kind of culinary confusion quickly led to some very famous cocktails like the Americano, Negroni and others. Which means that vermouth in combination with an amaro is truly a wonderful thing.

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Everybody knows at least one amaro

Yes, Campari, the red temptress. But there are countless others like Fernet Branca, Cynar, Averna, Aperol, Montenegro, Martini Bitter, etc, etc…

Fernet is actually kind of a subspecies of Amaro of which Branca is probably the best known.

Biercée Bitter

The  idea must have been something like, look we all like chocolate, coffee and endives let’s try to put it all into one bottle and they kind of nailed it. Apparently Belgian endives were a great inspiration and they really tried to make that work, but had to let go in favour of the fruitiness.

Let’s have a look at it. As always with Biercée the design is awesome, I think. Tall, slender bottle, nice art nouveau logo and a fun “see-through-the-bottle” back print (these are quite popular lately, aren’t they?). There are two different bottles: one has a wolf and the other a doe (a female deer). It’s really very nice, less is more, an elegant bottle, a relaxed bottle as it were.

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Biercée Bitter, Martini Rubino and Copperhead Black Batch make a delightful Negroni.

Let’s have a taste. And here it starts, the aroma is not what I expected, it smells like candy and flowers, you know things you don’t associate with bitter. It makes you think of ‘sweet’. That is also what happens first when you taste it. You taste the red fruit first, raspberries and cassis, quite sweet. And just when you think what the hell is this, it changes. Citrus comes through and makes it more and more bitter and drier. Just what you wanted. The whole experience is a continuous flavour explosion in your mouth with a very long after taste. It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, first deceptively sweet and then bitter and dry.

It works like a dream in Negronis, Americanos or Spritz. You can even drink it neat over ice with an orange zest. Cocktail Nation approved!

Cheers!

 

 

Argousier – Belgian sea-buckthornberry liquor

Spawned from the alchemical wedding between award-winning Belgian bartender Jeroen Van Hecke and ‘Distillerie de Biercée’.

Jeroen Van Hecke, bartender at the very famous ‘L’Apereau’ cocktailbar in Blankenberge, had won the ‘Biercée Gin cocktail competition’ and as a reward they locked him up in a cellar with Christophe Mulatin and Pierre Gérard at the Belgian Biercée distillery. After a couple of months they re-emerged with a wild look in their eyes…and a bottle of Argousier in their hands.

Argousier and some Sea-buckthornberries
Argousier and some Sea-buckthornberries

Sea-buckthornberries. I had to google that, never heard of it. Apparently it is a rather small, orange berry that grows in the dunes at the coast and can be harvested from August to September. The berry is quite rare, but very healthy. They say it originated in Nepal and spread over the rest of the world after the last ice age (probably by Scrat). On first sight you would think it is poisonous, but actually it’s quite the opposite, almost magical healing stuff. The berry has a wide range of pharmacological activities such as cytoprotective, anti-stress, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, radioprotective, anti-atherogenic, anti-tumor, anti-microbial and tissue regeneration have been reported. Basically it turns you into Wolverine.

Scrat, responsable for bringing the Sea-buckthornberry all the way from Nepal to Blankenberge.
Scrat, responsable for bringing the Sea-buckthornberry all the way from Nepal to Blankenberge.

So I was as excited as a young man at a Playboy Mansion Pool Party when I found a certain black box on my doorstep, bearing a familiar logo. And a beautiful box it is. They must have a pair of good designers at Biercée, their Gin bottle  is also very eye (and palate) pleasing.

The liquor has a deep yellow colour and a surprising taste. There is a certain fresh acidity in it, almost like sour oranges. The taste lingers on the centre of your tongue while the sweetness of the liquor develops. This is a very interesting drink. It will mix well with certain gins. Then again, crazy as I am, I wanted to try it with a strong agricole rhum – you know something that tastes like a simple, but straightforward slap of molasses in your face. The acidity of the Argousier reminded me somehow of apples and sour oranges, so I added a bit of Calvados and a dash of two orange bitters. I used an oleosaccharum to bind it all together and stirred it long time over a lot of ice. It was very, very, very yummie.

Distillerie de Biercée, a U-boat captain's wet dream
Distillerie de Biercée, a U-boat captain’s wet dream

I like Argousier, it is a product with a wide potential and it could give a tasty twist on your classic cocktails. I hope it stays, it would make a perfect gift for the holidays.

Cheers!

L’Apereau Blankenberge – Review

De winning barteam

Ze hebben niet alleen de eerste, maar ook de tweede plaats gewonnen op de Belgische preselecties van de Diageo World Class, verreweg de meest gerenommeerde cocktailwedstrijd van het moment. Reden te meer om Jeroen Van Hecke en Dries Botty van de L’Apereau te Blankenberge een bezoekje te gaan brengen.

 

De werken aan het tramspoor daar, zorgden voor wat gps-problemen en parking was ook al niet zo evident ondanks de koude, mensloze winteravond, maar uiteindelijk zijn we er dan toch geraakt. Ik kon met één oog tussen pet en sjaal de naam ontwaren, of toch L’A…eau in de donkerte. ‘That’ll do’, dacht ik en met een beredeneerde gok stapte ik binnen.

Bingo, we werden begroet door Jeroen – goed gegokt. Ik moet zeggen, ik had iets totaal anders verwacht van L’Apereau. Het is eigenlijk veel gezelliger in het echt dan op de foto’s; het is er veel knusser. Er is ook absoluut geen drempel tussen bartender en klant, een ontspannen en joviaal team dat je quasi overrompelt met tips en suggesties.

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In het echt nog veel gezelliger (en meer mensen)

We zaten amper neer en kregen al wat hapjes een pesto/tapenade  met breadsticks en – verbazend lekker – popcorn met limoenzeste en Ras el hanout. Omnomnom!

Ik wou zeker de Tikinei proberen van Dries, een Tiki-cocktail met een fantastische naam en interessante ingrediënten: rum, limoensap, gember, kaneel, eigeel en zelfgemaakte steranijs en cardamombitters. Als je die smaken in je hoofd combineert kan je niet anders doen dan kwijlen. Het probleem was dat ik compleet versnoft was door een sinusitis aanval. En geur is nog steeds 70% van je smaakervaring. Niettemin blijft het een fantastische creatie en de mouthfeel was excellent. Een aanrader. Mijn sinussen waren ook weer vrij nadien, ik denk dat dat door de Marie Jane bitters kwam…waarom dat moet je maar eens aan Dries zelf vragen.

Geertrui had een “French Goose in Antwerp”, een hele mond vol – ook de cocktail zelf: Grey Goose La Poire, sap van gegrilde citroenen, Elixir d’Anvers, siroop van gefermenteerde cardamom en vanille en Peychauds bitters. De cocktail teleporteerde me naar de zomer. Ken je dat gevoel: de bbq is gedaan, je gasten zijn buiten, de grill staat uit te doven, de zon geeft haar allerlaatste streepje rood licht in de verte. Je smijt je in je tuinzetel; kick your feet up en met een zeer voldane ‘aaaaah’ pak je dat ijskoude, fleurige drankje vast. Mmmm. Helaas was het buiten iets minder goed weer.

Dries shop of secrets
Die blik zegt alles. Topconcentratie. Hij gaat van al dat fruit waarschijnlijk een killer-siroop maken. Hem kennende draait hij ook de planken erin. De security op de achtergrond probeert hem tevergeefs tegen te houden 😉

Dat waren 2 cocktails van Dries, ik kon niet weggaan zonder er eentje van Jeroen te proeven natuurlijk. Ik ging voor de Saint, een recept dat hij uitgedokterd had voor de Biercée wedstrijd. Biercée gin, Biercine likeur, citroensap, reductie van wortel appelsien en vanille, en eiwit. Dit was excellent! Perfect in balans, lekkere mouthfeel, prachtig. Let wel, niet een smaakcombinatie die ik zelf regelmatig zou drinken bij een goed boek ofzo, maar heerlijk als unieke smaakexplosie. Een echte wedstrijdcocktail. Hij zit dan ook in de finale van de wedstrijd, ik ben benieuwd!

Jeroen Negroni
Jeroen Van Hecke. Deze meester-cocktailist mag deze zomer naar Madrid om België te verdedigen in de Europese selectie van de Diageo World Class.

Als afsluiter nam ik een van hun barrelaged cocktails, een Hanky Panky. In totaal ongeveer 6 maand gerijpt, Tanqueray, Carpano Antica en Fernet Branca. Ik denk dat ik mij ook zo’n vaatje ga aanschaffen.

Algemene conclusie: als je aan de kust bent, het maakt niet uit waar, en je wil iets drinken? Ga dan naar de L’Apereau, de hospitality van deze kerels is top, net als hun drankjes; er is geen drempel en je leert gegarandeerd het een en het ander bij. Het is een topteam achter de bar, op alle vlakken. Als je cocktailliefhebber bent kan je deze bar niet overslaan.

Cheers!